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Students hold ‘Protest for Palestine’ amid international conflict

A protest for Palestine was held Tuesday afternoon across the Cal State Long Beach campus after President Jane Close Conoley released a statement condemning the event, referring to it as a “glorification of war.”

Violence in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine made national headlines Saturday morning when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an assault on communities near the Gaza Strip.

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The protest lasted for over two hours and occurred after an email was sent from President Conoley.

“A student group here at the university recently posted messages on social media that expressed support for recent attacks against Israel,” said the email. “For many, these posts and an event the group is planning for this afternoon, are deeply offensive in light of the loss of life and unspeakable violence during this conflict.”

The latest email followed on the heels of Monday’s statement from Conoley where she alluded to possible demonstrations on campus, stating, “Please remember that as a university we have standards of conflict related to the time, place and manner of public events.”

In light of the international situation, La F.U.E.R.Z.A Student Association released a call to action on Monday and hosted a “Protest for Palestine” at the Go Beach Sign on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

The protest was described as “CSULB students united against apartheid,” according to their Instagram post.

The call drew over 50 protesters with Palestinian flags and signs. They demonstrated for an hour at the Go Beach sign, before marching through campus.

Protesters made it known that they would not speak with the media present, which included local TV stations such as ABC7 and KNX.

10/10/23 GO BEACH SIGN: Protestors with megaphones started chants like "free Palestine" at Tuesday&squot;s protest.
10/10/23 GO BEACH SIGN: Protesters with megaphones started chants like “free Palestine” at Tuesday’s protest. Photo credit: Linsey Towles

Protesters with megaphones read from written speeches condemning the Israeli occupation of disputed Palestinian territory and chanted, “from Palestine to the Philippines, stop the U.S. War machine” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

“The real terrorists are the Zionist state that have spent 75 years imprisoning and oppressing the rights and resources of two million Palestinians in Gaza,” said one protester.

10/10/23 GO BEACH SIGN: Protestors took part in chants and held signs to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people.
10/10/23 GO BEACH SIGN: Protesters took part in chants and held signs to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Photo credit: Linsey Towles

Some protesters debated with people outside the protest, though the protests did not garner a counter-protest.

“They have the right to protest,” said Leo Gruber, Co-President of Beach Hillel, a national Jewish organization for college students. “I disagree what they’re protesting about. I want to thank them for keeping it peaceful.”

Gruber said that he feels the protesters do not understand the civilians’ lives being lost.

“They don’t recognize that innocents are being killed. I personally feel that soldier versus soldier, or soldier versus terrorists is unfortunate, but it’s a part of war. But civilians should not be involved in this.”

10/10/23 GO BEACH SIGN: Debates both civil and heated took place around the protest on people with different view-points on the situation in the Middle East.
10/10/23 GO BEACH SIGN: Debates both civil and heated took place around the protest on people with different view-points on the situation in the Middle East. Photo credit: Linsey Towles

During Tuesday’s event, protesters responded to the second email from Conoley stating their protest was not to celebrate and glorify the violence occurring in the Middle East and that the group condemns all forms of antisemitism.

The protest traveled from the Go Beach sign to the Liberal Arts building as students continued to chant and march through campus. The protest remained peaceful and dispersed after almost three hours.

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